Gators dominate LA, march into second round

The San Francisco State men’s basketball team dominated Cal State LA Tuesday night, stomping their SoCal rivals 93-67 to deliver the Gators their first playoff victory since 2013.

In front of a rocking crowd at The Swamp, senior center AJ Kahlon led the way with 21 points and 8 rebounds for the Gators (24-4), followed by Warren Jackson’s 18 points and 5 assists. The Golden Eagles were led by senior Travis Hammonds with 24 and Jordan Wilson’s 18.

This story has been updated with quotes and additional material from The Swamp on the SF State campus.

San Francisco State head coach Paul Trevor talked about the atmosphere in the home gym:

“Incredible atmosphere, just incredible. I thought the fans were terrific, they gave us the energy and passion by filling the arena up. They gave our guys the extra step we needed.”

San Francisco State controlled the first half, coming out on fire from downtown. Senior guard Nick Calcaterra sparked the shooting barrage making the team’s first three-pointer with 11 minutes remaining in the half. A Warren Jackson 30-footer followed to stretch the lead to 22-18.

The Gators made five three-pointers in the first half and finished the half on a 10-3 run to push the lead to 37-26.

Senior guard Coley Apsay ignited the second half with a three to extend the Gators’ lead 40-26. SF State never looked back, outscoring their opponent 56-41 in the final 20 minutes.

San Francisco State dominated the offensive side of the ball tonight with well-executed plays. The Gators scored 50 points in the paint and made 11 shots from behind the arch and shot an overall 55 percent from the field.

Junior Jash Kahlon, who chipped in 7 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes, told SFBay:

 “Coach kept telling me since I like to pop out and shot the 3 as you could see all season to look down low. He just wanted me to attack down low. They were switching everything 1-4 so I could have a little guy on like Wilson (5-foot-8-inch Cal State LA guard) in the post.”

Trevor echoed that idea:

“When we get our big guys involved it really opens up the perimeter for our guards because we know our guards can score. Tonight we realized we had a mismatch down low so that is what we tried to do.”

With the win, the Gators will head to the second round of the CCAA tournament at CSU San Marcos to play the Sonoma State Seawolves (20-7), who topped Cal Poly Pomona 63-56 Tuesday night.

Senior center AJ Kahlon said:

“We just found out we play Sonoma State on Friday. So its just about one game at a time, that’s all we see. We beat them twice already this year, but it’s tough beating a team three times in our conference.”

The Gators can assure themselves a spot in the NCAA Division II tournament by winning the CCAA tournament. If they lose in San Marcos, San Francisco State will need to earn an at-large bid to the 2017 NCAA Division II Tournament and be ranked among the top eight in the West region.

The final regional rankings will be released before the selection show Wednesday. The field for the NCAA Division II Tournament will be announced via live stream on NCAA.com Sunday.